How beautiful trees can be useful
In the past few decades, trees became one of the many horticultural casualties of the great housing spread. Suburban developments sprouted seemingly overnight, and while most of them boasted a host of amenities, lovely new dwellings, and even postage-stamp sized lawns, something was missing. Trees were mostly absent—either as preserved old growth specimens or new plantings—but recent research tells a startling story about the human need for trees. While we could talk only about how they benefit humans and human settlements, trees also offer a host of other positive offerings for the ecosystem as a whole. Wait, what was that about studies?
Physical and Psychological Benefits
Beyond the politics of climate change, objective data collected by NOAA indicates that our planet is in the midst of climate change directly associated with rising levels of greenhouse gasses. Whether you agree with the point that human activity is involved in this climatic shift or not, what everyone can agree upon is that trees love carbon dioxide. They need it to complete the process of photosynthesis, and the byproduct of this action is oxygen. While each species of tree varies, according to necessary calculations, a mature specimen will consume as much as 48 pounds of oxygen every year, producing ample oxygen to sustain two adult humans. That’s pretty substantial, but the good news doesn’t end there.
The preliminary findings of several studies indicate that the presence of trees in a living environment reduces stressors and psychological burdens. While there’s still quite a bit more research to be done in this area, the effects, whatever their cause, are worth noting. Reduced blood pressure, improved mood and immune function, better sleep and more energy, and even an increased rate of wound healing are all essential benefits to spending time among trees.
Income Inequality and Arboriculture
These data are all pretty compelling reasons to plant trees wherever possible, but a rather exciting trend may offer more motivation for arboriculture yet. One analysis of several conducted in the past five years has shown that income inequality within the built environment— mainly entirely urban areas—can be directly correlated to the presence of trees. In spaces that lacked them, intense poverty was often present and could be readily connected to a unique phenomenon in the United States—the Food Desert. This term describes areas where access to fresh food and basic nutritional needs are often absent or extremely restricted. Would this trend shift if gardens and trees were planted in these areas? The data suggests as much.
The Need to Know
If you’re interested in planting trees on your property, there are several points to consider before you begin. Take a few moments to assess the following list and conduct any research you feel is needed to make the right choice.